A moment of silence follows, and I can picture that look on my father’s face, like someone showing him a veiled box, then suddenly pulling the veil off, revealing the contents.
“Sven?” my father’s voice is not nearly as big as it was a second ago. “Is that you?”
“Who else could it be?” Sven laughs, but it’s an ominous laugh, promising more clouds to come, clouds bringing rain and thunder beyond compare.
“What do you want?” my father growls from the speakerphone.
I know that if he could, he would reach through the phone and grab this bastard by the throat, not letting go until the final breath finally escaped his wretched body. But, that is all wishful thinking. I remain here, handcuffed, with this crazy man whose intentions I still don’t know.
“The thing you’re hiding in your safe,” Sven leans in all the way to the phone, hissing right into the speaker, as tiny droplets of his sweat squirt all over the surface of my phone.
“What thing!?” my father thunders. “What the Hell do you mean!?”
“I’m not prolonging this conversation any more than I need to,” Sven replies shortly. “I’ll call again in two hours, with clear directions on where to leave the stash. Oh, and remember one thing,” Sven pauses for a moment, and his body slithers behind me, as his hand rests on the nape of my neck. He can probably feel my heartbeat, about to explode. “If I even smell the cops, I’ll leave a trail of Maddie’s parts, which you can follow back to me. I promise you that. Two hours, Hugo.”
And, with those words, he grabs the phone and smashes it against the opposite wall. The phone bursts into a million tiny little pieces, which glimmer on the concrete floor, like tears. But, I’m not crying. I don’t feel sad. I feel scared, petrified. My mother always taught me that crying when you’re scared is the worst reaction you could have. It hinders rational thinking, which might prevent you from reaching a solution to your problem. And, seeing this man, he doesn’t seem to be the type to fall for tears. It’s a futile effort at nothing.
I watch the metallic phone parts sparkle for a moment longer, then Sven pulls me up.
“Where are we going?”
He is more agitated now, pushing me towards the door forcefully, even though I’ve done everything he asked me to do. We continue towards the car in silence, and he shoves me into the backseat again. He himself sits on the driver’s seat, grasping at the steering wheel hard.
“You better hope for your sake that your father brings me what I want,” he hisses, as he looks at me through the rear view mirror. There is no more trace of that nice, polite guy from a few hours ago. This is the voice of a man who is no stranger to hurting women. Those are the eyes that have seen his own hands do horrendous things.
I just nod, lowering my head. Whatever he is asking, my father will give it to him. I’m sure of that. He was told not to contact the police, but what do people usually do under these circumstances? I remember all those kidnapping movies I’ve seen and getting the police involved never turns out the way everyone planned.
I hear the start of the engine, and we’re back on the road. It’s difficult to stay awake. I feel drugged, but I’m sure I wasn’t. At least, not again. I didn’t drink anything, and by this point, I’m becoming parched. But, I won’t ask for anything from this man. Even if it’s the last thing I do.
I clench my hands into fists, and subconsciously try to pull my hands apart, but that only tightens the metallic grip, which digs into my flesh, leaving bright red marks. My eyelids are becoming heavier and heavier, and soon, despite all odds, I drift into sleep again.
Of course Hugo had no other way but to call us. This is exactly what I told Fynn, when we got the call. It helps that we all go way back, but despite what people think, it’s advisable to notify the police when someone has been kidnapped, and especially when there’s been a ransom call.
“You think Sven’s working alone?” Fynn asks me, downing his coffee. I always joke it’s like him, black and bitter.
It always surprised me how easily he could eat and drink in the car. Like, he had some inner balance the rest of us didn’t. He puts the paper cup in the pocket of the door.
“I doubt it,” I reply, with my eyes firmly on the road. “Hugo knows it, too. That’s why it’s crucial that we find his daughter in the next hour or so. Sven’s unpredictable, like a cat in a box. You open the lid and you don’t know if the cat’s gonna be sleeping or if it’s waiting to claw your eyes out.”
I swerve quickly to the left, and we both lean a little to the opposite side, then quickly regain our balance.
“We don’t even know if the girl is still alive,” he says.
“Don’t let Hugo hear you talk like that.”
“Shouldn’t he know the odds?”
“You don’t tell a father that his child might be dead,” I give him a scornful eye, but he doesn’t mind it, as usual.
“Come on, it’s not like Hugo doesn’t know Sven. The guy’s an animal. He kills on instinct. Honestly, I’d be surprised if the girl is still alive and kicking,” Fynn snorts, and I know there’s no way prolonging this conversation. “But, you’re free to have your la-di-da moment, thinking we’ll swoop in and save the day.”
“Don’t we always?” I grin, stepping on the gas.